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have conceded defeat in their attempt to lure the midfielder Andrea Pirlo after the 30-year-old said he was “very happy” to end his career at Milan.
It suggests that Chelsea will begin the new Premier League season having added only Yuri Zhirkov, Daniel Sturridge and Ross Turnbull to their squad this summer and without the marquee signing Bruce Buck, the chairman, said they hoped to secure this transfer window.
Chelsea had never spoken publicly about the club’s interest in Pirlo but he is greatly admired by the head coach, Carlo Ancelotti, who worked with the playmaker during his eight years at Milan.
On Saturday Milan claimed they had turned down an offer for Pirlo – thought to be have been in the region of £6.5m – which at the time appeared to be a bargaining ploy. His subsequent decision to stay in Italy will be a particular disappointment for Ancelotti, who had hoped to field him at the base of his proposed diamond formation, where he was to control the tempo of Chelsea’s play.
“Today is a very good day,” Pirlo said. “I am very happy to be able to finish my career here. This is thanks to the president, Silvio Berlusconi, to [the vice executive president] Adriano Galliani and to Leonardo [the head coach] who, by taking me off the market, have given me the possibility to end my career here.
“When they told me the news I was very happy, finally the saga of this summer is over and we can continue the adventure in Rossonero. I had the possibility of changing teams and adventure but at the end in mutual agreement, the club and I, decided to continue and we are all happier. It was a turbulent summer with many doubts but at the end, in my family, we are all happier to remain in Milan.”
Pirlo’s renewed commitment to Milan came after Berlusconi had met Galliani and Leonardo at Milan’s training ground today before holding a press conference to announce the decision. “Andrea Pirlo has been taken off the market. He will stay with us and finish his career at Milan,” he said.
“We received some important offers for him, especially from Carlo Ancelotti who wanted to take Pirlo to Chelsea with him. But we decided that he will stay. Leonardo told us that Pirlo is too important for our team. So we decided he will end his career here at Milan.”
Alongside Kaká, who joined Real Madrid from Milan, Pirlo is the latest box-office name who has decided against a move to west London. Carlos Tevez, Milan’s Pato, Sergio Agüero of Atlético Madrid and David Villa of Valencia were also on Chelsea’s shopping list this summer, as was Franck Ribéry who may have been priced out of a move by Bayern Munich.
There was, though, brighter news for the club with the confirmation that Didier Drogba has signed a contract extension, thought to be worth about £100,000 a week, that will keep him at the club until 2012. Drogba had seemed certain to leave following his conduct after the Champions League semi-final defeat to Barcelona in May, when he abused the referee, Tom Henning Ovrebo, and was subsequently banned for three European games.


Chelsea have conceded defeat in their attempt to lure the midfielder Andrea Pirlo after the 30-year-old said he was “very happy” to end his career at Milan.

It suggests that Chelsea will begin the new Premier League season having added only Yuri Zhirkov, Daniel Sturridge and Ross Turnbull to their squad this summer and without the marquee signing Bruce Buck, the chairman, said they hoped to secure this transfer window.

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Chelsea had never spoken publicly about the club’s interest in Pirlo but he is greatly admired by the head coach, Carlo Ancelotti, who worked with the playmaker during his eight years at Milan.

On Saturday Milan claimed they had turned down an offer for Pirlo – thought to be have been in the region of £6.5m – which at the time appeared to be a bargaining ploy. His subsequent decision to stay in Italy will be a particular disappointment for Ancelotti, who had hoped to field him at the base of his proposed diamond formation, where he was to control the tempo of Chelsea’s play.

“Today is a very good day,” Pirlo said. “I am very happy to be able to finish my career here. This is thanks to the president, Silvio Berlusconi, to [the vice executive president] Adriano Galliani and to Leonardo [the head coach] who, by taking me off the market, have given me the possibility to end my career here.

“When they told me the news I was very happy, finally the saga of this summer is over and we can continue the adventure in Rossonero. I had the possibility of changing teams and adventure but at the end in mutual agreement, the club and I, decided to continue and we are all happier. It was a turbulent summer with many doubts but at the end, in my family, we are all happier to remain in Milan.”

Pirlo’s renewed commitment to Milan came after Berlusconi had met Galliani and Leonardo at Milan’s training ground today before holding a press conference to announce the decision. “Andrea Pirlo has been taken off the market. He will stay with us and finish his career at Milan,” he said.

“We received some important offers for him, especially from Carlo Ancelotti who wanted to take Pirlo to Chelsea with him. But we decided that he will stay. Leonardo told us that Pirlo is too important for our team. So we decided he will end his career here at Milan.”

Alongside Kaká, who joined Real Madrid from Milan, Pirlo is the latest box-office name who has decided against a move to west London. Carlos Tevez, Milan’s Pato, Sergio Agüero of Atlético Madrid and David Villa of Valencia were also on Chelsea’s shopping list this summer, as was Franck Ribéry who may have been priced out of a move by Bayern Munich.

There was, though, brighter news for the club with the confirmation that Didier Drogba has signed a contract extension, thought to be worth about £100,000 a week, that will keep him at the club until 2012. Drogba had seemed certain to leave following his conduct after the Champions League semi-final defeat to Barcelona in May, when he abused the referee, Tom Henning Ovrebo, and was subsequently banned for three European games.
Source : The Guardian

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LONDON – Sunderland signed England striker Darren Bent from Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday, agreeing an initial fee of 10 million pounds that could rise as high as 16.5 million.

“England international Bent, 25, has signed a four-year deal after the two clubs agreed a 10 million pound fee,” a statement on the Sunderland website said.
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Tottenham added in a statement that their Premier League rivals could end up paying as much as 16.5 million pounds for Bent, depending on appearances.

Even the initial fee is a club record for Sunderland, beating the nine million pounds they paid Scottish Premier League club Hearts for goalkeeper Craig Gordon in 2007.

Bent, who has won four England caps, joined Tottenham in June 2007 for 16.5 million pounds from Charlton Athletic. He was Tottenham’s top scorer last season with 12 Premier League goals.

“The club made a real play to get me, they made me feel wanted and that meant a lot to me,” Bent told the Sunderland website.

He becomes Sunderland’s fourth major signing of the transfer window joining striker Fraizer Campbell (from Manchester United), Albanian midfielder Lorik Cana (Olympique Marseille) and Paraguayan defender Paulo da Silva (Toluca) at the club.
Source : FourFourTwo

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Liverpool have agreed a fee, believed to be in the region of £20 million, with Roma for midfielder Alberto Aquilani.

The 25-year-old – who has previously been linked with Arsenal – has made more than 100 league appearances for the Stadio Olimpico outfit since making his debut in 2002, scoring nine times.
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And with Spanish international Xabi Alonso passing his medical with Real Madrid on Wednesday, Anfield boss Benitez is keen to spend some of the reported £30 million transfer fee on a replacement, which is now expected to be the Italian who has 11 caps for the Azzurri.

“Alberto is a very good player and I’m delighted we’ve reached agreement with Roma for his transfer,” Benitez told the club’s official website. 

“He will travel to Merseyside later this week for a medical. Alberto has a winning mentality and great experience in both Serie A and the Champions League.

“He has long been recognised as a top class talent in Italy, captaining his country at both Under 19 and Under 21 levels before establishing himself in the senior national side.”

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English champions Manchester United will start the new season without Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who faces an eight-week layoff with a broken finger.

According to the club’s website on Wednesday, Van der Sar underwent surgery on his left hand after injuring it saving a penalty from Danijel Pranjic in United’s shoot-out defeat to Bayern Munich in a pre-season friendly.

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“He will be out for up to eight weeks,” the club said. “The prognosis means that Van der Sar won’t be back to full fitness until the end of September.”

Van der Sar was instrumental in United’s 18th league title last season, setting a new English record of 14 consecutive league clean sheets.

The 38-year-old’s injury means Ben Foster, who signed a new contract in July, could get the chance to impress, starting with this weekend’s curtain-raiser against Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley. Tomasz Kuszczak is also in reserve.

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DIDIER DROGBA last night agreed a new three-year contract at Chelsea worth over £100,000 a week.

SunSport understands that the striker’s representatives thrashed out terms with Blues, who expect to announce the deal in the next few days.

It is a big boost for boss Carlo Ancelotti less than two weeks before the new Premier League season kicks off.

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Drogba’s new deal represents a remarkable turn-around in the Ivory Coast hitman’s fortunes at Stamford Bridge.

His future had come into question after he publicly criticised owner Roman Abramovich following Jose Mourinho’s exit.

The 30-year-old also fell out with boss Big Phil Scolari early last season.

And only last May his Blues career was hanging in the balance.

His attack on referee Tom Henning Ovrebo following the Champions League semi-final exit against Barcelona had seemingly put a new deal in danger.

But Drogba, whose four-match UEFA ban was cut to three on appeal, now looks set to finish his career at Chelsea.

Rafael Benítez secured a bittersweet victory over Real Madrid tonight when the Spanish club met his £30m demand for Xabi Alonso and took their summer spending spree through the £200m barrier.
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Alonso will undergo a medical in the Spanish capital tomorrow after Real finally relented over an asking price that Benítez had steadfastly refused to lower all summer. The 27-year-old is expected to sign a four-year contract at the Bernabéu worth £3.8m a year after tax, a package that was agreed in principle between Real and Alonso several months ago and prompted the Spain international to tell Benítez that he wished to end a successful five-year stay on Merseyside.


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had previously rejected a £25m offer from Real for their popular midfielder, who was Benítez’s first signing at Anfield in a £10.7m move from Real Sociedad in 2004, with the manager adamant that only a fee of £30m would trigger a deal. Liverpool’s new managing director, Christian Purslow, reiterated there would be no compromise on the fee in a meeting with Real’s executive director general, Jose Angel Sanchez, at a meeting in Barcelona on Sunday.

Two days later, while Alonso was training with Liverpool at Melwood this afternoon, Real returned with the full asking price and the midfielder was withdrawn from a scheduled pre-season trip to Oslo and travelled instead to Madrid.

Alonso’s impending departure represents a major setback for Liverpool supporters, who voted the Spaniard second to Steven Gerrard in man of the match awards last season, and also for Benítez ahead of a season that brings expectations of the club’s first league title for 20 years. The disappointment for the manager, however, will be offset by an injection of £30m into his transfer budget and the fact he has enticed an extra £12m out of Real for a player he tried to sell to Juventus for £18m only 12 months ago.

Benítez’s attempt to sell Alonso against his wishes last summer, to finance a deal for the then Aston Villa captain Gareth Barry, broke a previously close relationship between the manager and player. Alonso subsequently described their relationship as “professional” and, as his desire to leave for Real confirms, was hurt by his manager’s actions, although he responded by producing arguably the best form of his Liverpool career last season.

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Alonso’s impressive reaction to the events of last summer, coupled with the need for proven Premier League talent ahead of a title challenge, prompted Benítez to revise his view on the midfielder. But he has been aware of the player’s determination to leave for several months and knew Real’s improved spending power under Florentino Pérez could transform his transfer budget.

With £30m banked for Alonso, Liverpool are now expected to make an £18m offer for the Roma midfielder, Alberto Aquilani. The Italian international is under contract at the Stadio Olimpico until 2013 but is believed to be receptive to a lucrative move to Anfield. The Valencia forward David Silva is another long-standing target of the Liverpool manager, who has spent £17m on Glen Johnson this summer but also recouped almost £5m from the sales of Alvaro Arbeloa and Sebastián Leto to Real and Panathinaikos respectively. The defender Andrea Dossena is also expected to leave Anfield.

The Alonso deal is the first major transfer Benítez has overseen since signing a new contract that granted him greater authority on such matters last season. While Real’s offer represents a reward for the manager’s hardball stance, the agreement is also a success for Alonso, who resolved to leave Anfield this summer and handed in a transfer request last week to pressure Real into concluding a deal.

Furthermore, his arrival in Spain indicates that Manuel Pellegrini and Jorge Valdano, Real’s coach and director general, succeeded in persuading Pérez that while Alonso may not sell as many shirts as £80m Cristiano Ronaldo or £56m Kaka, his playmaking skills are “fundamental” to the president’s latest gálactico project.

Source : Fourfourtwo & BBC Sport

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CRISTIANO Ronaldo’s legs have been insured for £90MILLION by Real Madrid.

The Spanish club – which bought Ronaldo for a record £80million in June – want to protect their money if he picks up a long-term injury.

Bosses got nervous after Ronaldo, 24, knocked his knee recently. Real’s doctors have given him the all-clear.

The ace has already been fouled 34 times in three pre-season games. That could rocket as opponents target the World Player of the Year.
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Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is banking on Ronaldo – famed for his diving antics – to help win the Champions League.

He said: “We will feed the world with Madridismo.”

Meanwhile, Ronaldo’s old home in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, has been snapped up by new Manchester City signing Emmanuel Adebayor for £5.5million.

He beat off competition for the seven-bedroom house from team-mates Kolo Toure, Gareth Barry and Carlos Tevez. New Manchester United signing Antonio Valencia also put in a bid.

Ex-United idol Ronaldo has made a £1.65million profit after paying £3.85million for the pad in February last year. The house has an indoor pool, jacuzzi, gym and cinema room.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is continuing to ponder whether to bring Gunners legend Patrick Vieira back to North London.

The Gunners’ arch-rivals, Tottenham Hotspur, have been strongly linked with a move for the 33-year-old Frenchman, who made more than 250 league appearances and won three Premier League titles and four FA Cups during his time at Highbury.
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However, speaking in Beijing during the Barclays Asia Trophy, Spurs boss Harry Redknapp admitted that talks had stalled over a potential deal.

And it then emerged that Arsenal were believed to be weighing up a move to bring the iconic central midfielder back to the club following a four-year absence.

But the Emirates Stadium supremo has now cast some doubt over Vieira’s return, revealing that he does not believe in the philosophy of re-signing players, and adding that Tomas Rosicky’s recovery from injury may mean there is no room for a new recruit.

“I have a general policy about re-signing players but I never said I would never do it,” he said.

“I am not a big fan because I feel once the players have gone, they have gone.

“Two weeks ago I didn’t know if we would have Eduardo or Rosicky and they are both completely back so that makes the squad quite big.

“I don’t know it could have psychological impact on the rest of the squad.”


Check out this article by the Bleacher Report > Here
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Aston Villa have been crowned Peace Cup champions after overcoming Juventus in a penalty shoot-out in the final in Seville.

After neither side were able to make the breakthrough in either normal time or extra-time, Villa took the spoils in the 12-team pre-season tournament after winning 4-3 on penalties against the Italian giants.

Both sides missed twice in the initial five efforts of the shoot out, with Juve duo Vincenzo Iaquinta and Alessandro Del Piero – who would have won the trophy for his side with a successful penalty – seeing poor shots saved by Brad Guzan, and Steve Sidwell blazing over for Villa and Chris Herd being denied by Gianluigi Buffon.

Aston-Villa-Peace-Cup_2343110But it was to be Villa’s night as, after Carlos Cuellar had confidently stroked home his side’s sixth kick, Nicola Legrottaglie smashed his effort over the crossbar to give Martin O’Neill’s side another impressive scalp having also beaten Atlante and Porto after losing their opening match of the tournament to Malaga.

There was little to separate the two sides in an evenly-fought opening period of the final, which saw Juve striker Iaquinta miss one of the best chances when he headed wide from close range after Mauro Camoranesi had nodded Felipe Melo’s deep pass back into the danger area.

Melo also went close with an early 25-yard shot for Juve, while for Villa Ashley Young and John Carew both tested Buffon with efforts from outside the box as the first half finished goalless.

Chelsea have insisted Joe Cole is not for sale after Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur were linked with a bid for the midfielder.

Reports had claimed Spurs boss Harry Redknapp who gave Cole his first-team debut at West Ham a decade ago, was planning a £10million offer for the England international.

However, Chelsea have warned off any clubs interested in the 27-year-old by confirming they will not be listening to offers.

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A statement from Chelsea read: “Contrary to media reports Chelsea is not, and will not be, considering any offers for Joe Cole.

“Our sole focus, as is Joe’s, is to complete his rehab and get him fit as soon as possible so that he can play a major part in the new season.”

Cole is currently working his way back to fitness after suffering a season-ending knee injury against Southend United in the FA Cup in January.

He met with a setback earlier in pre-season and is not expected to be ready for the opening Premier League game of the campaign on 15th August against Hull City

Since joining Chelsea from West Ham six years ago, Cole has made almost 250 appearances for the club and scored 38 goals.

More to follow…

Roma midfielder Alberto Aquilani is set to join Liverpool as a replacement for Real Madrid-bound Xabi Alonso, according to reports in Spain and Italy.

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The 25-year-old – who has previously been linked with Arsenal – has made more than 100 league appearances for the Stadio Olimpico outfit since making his debut in 2002, scoring nine times.

And with Liverpool confirming on Monday that they are in talks with the Madridistas over the sale of Spanish international Alonso, Anfield boss Rafael Benitez is believed to be eyeing up the Italian, who has 11 caps for the Azzurri, as a replacement.

Despite Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport  reporting last month that Benitez was weighing up an €18 million bid for the middle-man, Aquilani’s agent Franco Zavaglia insisted the player was going no where.

However, according to Spanish daily Marca, the Reds will soon complete a £15.3 million deal for the Italian playmaker, who is currently recovering from recently undertaken ankle surgery.

While Sky Sport Italia  believe Aquilani will sign a four year deal worth €4 million per season, once Alonso’s switch to the Bernabeu is rubber-stamped.

Chelsea’s offer for Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo is too low to consider, AC Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani said on Saturday.

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Media have reported that Chelsea’s former Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti has offered eight million euros plus striker Claudio Pizarro.

“At this price Pirlo is not for sale,” Galliani told Italy’s Sky television before adding that Milan were renewing their interest in Real Madrid forward Klaas Jan Huntelaar.


Bundesliga champions VfL Wolfsburg have signed Nigeria forward Obafemi Martins from Newcastle United, the German club said on Friday.
“He’s exactly the kind of player we have been looking for to compliment Grafite and Edin Dezko,” Wolfsburg coach Armin Veh told the club’s website.
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The 24-year-old former Inter Milan striker has signed a four-year contract at Wolfsburg with Newcastle confirming the fee to be 10.5 million euros.

“The Bundesliga is one of the strongest leagues in the world and I’m very happy to be playing for the German champions. This is a massive challenge,” Martins added.

Newcastle, who were relegated from the English Premier League at the end of last season, signed Martins in 2006.

Manchester City defender Kolo Toure said he left Arsenal because of the team’s failure to replace their best players.

“When you look at Arsenal you see all the great players have left and are now in the past,” Toure was quoted as saying in British media on Sunday.

“Players like (Thierry) Henry, (Patrick) Vieira and (Ray) Parlour that brought success to Arsenal and I believed it was right at this stage of my career to also move on.”
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The 28-year-old, who completed a reported 14 million pound move to City on Wednesday, was the last member of Arsenal’s 2004 title-winning squad donned the ‘invincibles’ after remaining unbeaten for the season.

“When we were winning the league the spirit was fantastic, we were like a band of brothers,” Toure said.

Since that title triumph Arsenal have only won the FA Cup in 2005 and fans have also seen key players such as Robert Pires, Ashley Cole, Gilberto Silva and Sol Campbell leave.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has replaced them with promising youngsters such as Theo Walcott, Samir Nasri, Aaron Ramsey, Denilson and Gael Clichy resulting in a talented but largely inexperienced squad.

The Frenchman has however recently confirmed the club are considering a return for Vieira who is set to leave Italian side Inter Milan.

Toure is big-spending City’s latest recruitment as they continue to buy a squad capable of competing for a Champions League qualification place next season.

City manager Mark Hughes has spent over 90 million pounds in the close-season and Ivory Coast international Toure believes money will bring success.

“You can’t be successful in football without money. This is the football business,” Toure said.

“The best teams are at the top only because they have the best players and to get those players you have to spend a lot of money.”